Brig. Gen. ''James Neil's statue'', Ayr - one among 12 Scottish statues under scrutiny for removal!!

Way back in June 2020 ''The Topple the Racists website'' listed 12 Scottish monuments linked to slavery and colonial violence on the interactive resource,  categorically stated how  certain towns  showed continued adoration of  colonial icons and symbols.” The crux of the problem is in the school and college history books, the British Empire history and its growth is distorted and the real facts are swept under the carpet, The present generations of the English society may not be aware of the atrocities committed by the EIC officials and later under the direct Crown administration. Among the 12 listed Scottish statues  by the afore-said website one is that of  Brig. Gen. James George Smith Neill in Ayr, Scotland. 

During Black Lives Matter protests in 2020,  protestors toppled off the statue of  Edward Colston and and threw it into the Bristol  city’s harbor.  The group mentioned: ''it is up to local communities to decide which monuments they want in their areas'' - meaning after knowing the full story of the commemorated colonial leaders

James George Smith Neill, Ayr, Scotland

James George Smith Neill, Ayr, Scotland ,

In Wellington Square, Ayr the presence of statue of James George Smith Neill, a Scottish military officer of the East India Company in the 1800s became a subject of debate. Particularly,  the recent revelations about his vicious role during the Indian rebellion of 1857. got the attention of a large section of people in Ayr, Scotland

But the Town council’s opposition leader, Conservative councilor Martin Dowey, said: “The Conservative group do not support this review. Racism in all its forms is abhorrent, but we should teach the history of statues, not tear them down''.  However, MP Allan Dorans was of the opinion that the statue of General Neill should be removed or modified.  He said,  “Racism has no place in our country and should not be celebrated either currently or where it has taken place in the past''.....''Given the recent revelations of the alleged actions of General Neill, my view is that the statue should either be removed or complemented by a plaque detailing General Neill’s actions including historical context.” 

A section of people's stance and 1000 signatures collected  in this connection  became a ground to file a  petition to bring down General James George Smith Neill who slaughtered thousands of native Indians in the areas around Lucknow and Allahabad (present day Uttar Pradesh). This was done in revenge for the murder of British women and children at the Bibighar area of UP.

Kiran Trivedy, 25, of Ayr, who  was behind the removal campaign, said,  ''the statue should be placed in a museum instead of taking pride of place in the town......  “Knowing this man’s statue stands tall in our town is an especially painful thought for those of us with South Asian heritage''.  This is what the people of Madras (Chennai) did in 1960 after a long protest. Even Mahatma Gandhi on a visit to Madras wanted the statue removed from the public place. The 10 ft tall bronze statue procured by  the then Prince of Wales (erected in 1860) was finally shifted to the  Madras  Museum, Egmore in 1960.(see:

In the wake of this campaign for the removal of the Brigadier-General James Neill statue in Wellington Square, Ayr, other Scottish statues (and street names) in Ayrshire were  reported to be under consideration for removal. Another section of people of Ayr wanted the statue to be retained because it was  paid for by the people of Ayr through public subscription in1859. Further, the statue was done by famous colonial  British sculptor Matthew Noble.

British sculptor Matthew

Above image:  "The Late Mr Noble, Sculptor - portrait of the British sculptor. Matthew Noble (1817– 1876) from the The Illustrated London News, July 1876 Brussels Exhibition. Illustration for The Illustrated London News, 8 July 1876...............

Mathew Noble, a popular Victorian-era sculptor was  known for countless monumental colonial figures or administrators. His wonderful work is still on display in many places in England such  as Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, Parliament Square, London, Queen Victoria's statue, unveiled in 1872, in Mumbai ,India  (gift from Maharajah Gaekwad of Baroda princely state (now in  Gujarat), Bombay Presidency Governor Mountstuart Elphinstone's memorial in St Pauls Cathedral, James George Neil, Wellington square, Ayr, Scotland etc. This statue of  Neil is an important part of Ayr’s history and heritage and, of course, of Noble's legacy in this town. A section of people  wanted  plaques on the  statues in Ayrshire and this would help future generations interpret the past.